Coast Guard Implementing New Security Measures
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 27, 2004 The Coast Guard is "aggressively" putting new security measures into place to comply with a new law designed to protect U.S. ports and waterways from a terrorist attack, the Coast Guard commandant said today during a joint interview with the Pentagon Channel and the American Forces Press Service.
Adm. Thomas H. Collins called the Maritime Transportation Security Act, which took effect July 1, an important part of "an overarching security framework" in place in the United States and around the world.
Also vital to this framework, he said, is the new International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, which also took effect July 1 and regulates shipping and port operations worldwide, Collins said. More than 140 nations have signed on to the code, which was coordinated through the International Maritime Organization, a United Nations body.
"We have a new security regime in place, and that's a good news story," the admiral said. "We developed standards, both international and domestic, and got over 140 nations to sign this new protocol in a year's time. It's unprecedented."
"So it's not only the United States that is enforcing a new security regime for shipping and ports, but over 140 countries," Collins said. "That's powerful. And I think we have come a long way since 9/11 in trying to build a robust security regime for maritime."
The challenge ahead, he said, is to ensure that these measures are implemented "in a vigorous way in the United States and around the world."
The Coast Guard is adding 500 people to its force to focus on this enforcement, and is working through its international port security program to ensure that other countries are adhering to international standards in their ports.
"And if not, we can take certain intervention actions as a port state," Collins said, "because they have to send their ships to us and if they want their ships to enter the United States, they better be practicing good security where they are."
The Maritime Transportation Security Act represents ensures the safety of U.S. ports and vessels through a whole new set of security standards for both domestic and foreign ports and vessels. These include area maritime security committees and security plans for facilities and vessels that may be involved in a transportation security incident.
The Coast Guard published new maritime security regulations last year in anticipation of the law's passage. These regulations focus on sectors of the maritime industry with the greatest risk of being involved in a transportation security incident. They include tank vessels, barges, large passenger vessels, cargo vessels, towing vessels, offshore oil and gas platforms and port facilities that service these vessels or handle dangerous cargo.